To ensure that your poinsettia plants looks good during the holidays, follow these rules and you should enjoy your plant and keep it healthy.
Place your plant so that it receives indirect sunlight at least 6 hours a day. Screen with a sheer curtain if the sun is direct.
A room temperature of 68 – 70° is best, and do not expose your poinsettia to temperatures below 50° F, if you are comfy, your poinsettia will be. That means that you might not want to put your plant outside as decoration during the chilly nights in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Water your poinsettia when the soil is dry when tested with your finger. Make sure not to over water, and don’t let it sit in standing water.
Fertilize the plant after the bloom is done.
Keep the poinsettia out of drafts and away from heating ducts, fireplaces, or warm appliances.
If you want the plant to re-bloom next year, you can try the following program – with a little bit of luck… it might actually work!
When your plant is not looking it’s best, don’t throw it out, instead put it in a less obtrusive area of your house.
In late March, cut your poinsettia back to about 8”, water it on a regular basis, and use a balanced all-purpose fertilizer. If you stick to the plan by the end of May you should see lots of new growth. Now is the time that you can put your plant outdoors. Make sure that the night temperatures are at least 55° F or above. Continue regular watering and fertilize your plant about every 3 weeks.
You may find that you will have to prune your plant during the summer; you want it bushy, not leggy. You can start pruning in June or July, but be sure to stop by September 1st. If your plant is growing well you will want to transplant the poinsettia into a larger pot (not more than 3-4” bigger than the original pot), make sure you have it in a potting mix that drains well and has a nice quantity of organic matter in it.
Now comes the interesting part. In order to set bud and bloom around Christmas the plant needs to have longer nights earlier than might normally occur. Starting October 1st the plants need to be kept in total darkness for 14 hours each night. You can cover them completely with a large box, or if you have a completely dark room – put them there. For the months of October, November and December the plants need 6 – 8 hours of bright sunlight and night temperatures between 60 – 70° F. If you continue the regular water, fertilizing, and control their light, you could very well have re-blooming poinsettias for Christmas. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work, any stray light can throw the plants off and… each cultivar is a little different and has a different requirement. But… hey, it’s a new challenge, a new project and worth a try – right?
Enjoy, and please let me know if you have any re-bloomers… I’d love to post your photos next year!
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